Saturday, 16 July 2011

Goal of the season...?

After the ridiculously over-the-top reactions on the net forums and elsewhere to the result at Stourbridge on Tuesday night, it was with some trepidation that I made the train journey to Telford.
Well, Wellington actually.
It was my first trip to the Buck's Head since it became the New Buck's Head, basically by being totally rebuilt.
The New Buck's Head


Very impressive it is too, with an excellent playing surface although it does have a touch of the Nene Parks about it, and the Strongbow was warm in the bar.
My main focus was to see which of the triallists would take their last chance to impress and book a place on the bonding trip to Wales next week, and maybe beyond.
We were already without injured trio Steve Elliott, Sido Jombati and Russ Penn, and also Ethan Moore, who seems to have the longest-running virus in medical history, and is rapidly turning into the invisible man.
Add to that Scott Brown, Alan Bennett, Josh Low and Marlon Pack, who had a watching brief in the stand, and you can see that this side had a very 'fringey' look about it.
Mike Green had a second game in goal, with Kyle Haynes, Harry Hooman, Andy Gallinagh and Danny Andrew across the back.
In midfield, Dave Bird, Michael Pook and returning trialist Olumide Durojaiye (Oli from now on) formed a narrow trio with Kaid Mohamed and Bagasan Graham supporting Nathan Elder.

Olumide Durojaiye (right)

So from that line-up, I would say that only Danny Andrew would be a certainty to start at Gillingham in three weeks time, with possibly Kaid as well, depending on how many more strikers we bring in.
The first half was quite even, with Telford's Andy Brown having the best chance to score when he hit the post, and Mike Green making one save from Craig Farrell.
Our best chance was made by Bagasan Graham with his first real run after 21 minutes, and he stood a great cross up for Nathan Elder at the far post, but he seemed to lack the will to really attack it.
Danny Andrew had a couple of long-range efforts, and then had our first chance after the break which forced a good save from the Telford keeper Ryan Young.
Graham came more in to the game as time went on and was again the best of the triallists with his keenness to run at players, and had an experienced full-back in the former Hereford player Ryan Valentine to contend with.
In this game more than the other two, he also showed more awareness, looking to end his runs with a cross or shot, and had a couple of efforts which went over the bar.
I definitely feel he is worth persevering with, and would hope that Mark Yates will take him to Wales.
Of the others, I would not take Nathan Elder or Oli on their showings today, while Harry Hooman and Luke Bottomer are borderline.
Hooman did little wrong in the game but with Elliott, Gallinagh, Bennett and Keith Lowe who can all play at centre-half, I would question the need for a fifth-choice centre half when other areas are more pressing.
Bottomer was very good at Cirencester, less so at Stourbridge and even less so in the 27 minutes he had after replacing Kaid Mohamed on the right. My reservations with him is size and physicality.
That was one of four changes we made with Keith Lowe replacing Danny Andrew, Junior Smikle replacing David Bird and, most tellingly, Jeff Goulding coming on for Nathan Elder.
Within a minute of coming on, the ball fell for Goulding 35 yards out and he produced a sublime lob over Young into the net, the celebration afterwards as nonchalant as the goal itself.
More substitutions followed with scholar Matt Williams coming on for Andy Gallinagh, Theo Lewis replacing Oli and later on Scott Wilson replaced Bagasan Graham and another scholar Keiran Thomas came on for Michael Pook.
So the side that finished was Green; Lowe, Williams, Hooman, Haynes (switched to left back when Keith Lowe came on); Thomas, Smikle, Lewis; Wilson, Bottomer; Goulding.
The equaliser, scored by Adam Proudlock with the last kick of the game was a small downer, but all in all it was a satisfactory performance against a competitive Telford side with some decent players.
Aside from the triallists, I would pick out Kyle Haynes as having had a decent game both defensively and looking to get forward, and he also adapted well to switching sides.
The manager was pleased after the game and would not reveal at this stage which triallists would be staying on, saying probably one or two, so maybe Graham and one other may be heading for Wales.
It seems that the loan striker is still on schedule, and Mark also revealed that he has made an offer for another player, who is a free agent, but there was no clue on position, age or former club, the manager adding that he is waiting for an answer.
So it is clear that the recruitment drive is not yet over as the pre-season preparations roll on to Bristol City on Tuesday night.